Susan Ranford is an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for New York Jobs. In her blogging and writing, she seeks to shed light on issues related to employment, business, and finance to help others understand different industries and find the right job fit for them.
The world of business is a tricky place to be. Whether you’re into selling products or offering services, competition is always coming from all sides. If you’ve got a lot of overhead — a brick and mortar shop or office, a handful of employees — it may be hard to a turn a profit early on.
It might be best to start with two things: yourself and the internet.
Most entrepreneurs today lean toward the internet for a variety of reasons. If you’re aspiring to start a business of your own, the internet can definitely help you out. From planning and strategizing to implementation and client interaction.
This article serves as your guide on how to use the internet to open your new business, and the greater implications for your company’s future.
Why Use the Internet?
All companies, big and small, are making their online presence felt more than ever.
Being a small business owner can be difficult. It takes time to get your brand out there, to train new hires, to serve clients or customers, to build products and services.
Staying on top of new technology and trends can allow you to be more connected with your customers.
Being one of the first businesses in your city or town to be on top of cutting edge technology can generate its own publicity as well as open up a whole new marketplace. Being aware of social media techniques and platforms as well as re-targeting and upgrading your mobile applications can help attract more clients to your businesses.
Digital marketing campaigns have become important for reaching a wider audience. Going digital means going online, where endless marketing strategy options exist. These campaigns can help your business successfully reach more customers and increase sales volume, if used correctly.
Types of Businesses Online
There are a variety of options as to what type of business you want to establish.
An ecommerce site is the most direct form of online business you can start. With a self-hosted ecommerce site, you can sell your goods and services directly to your customers on your own.
The best part about a direct ecommerce site is the level of control you have over your store. You can customize all the options, such as the complete look and feel of your store. However, this flexibility makes the process that much more complicated as well.
An Etsy store is, for example, relatively easy to set up. The format of an Etsy store remains relatively uniform from store to store, though you have the ability to customize your layout a little.
However, all customers would still have to buy through the Etsy interface, but the legwork to get your site up and running is minimal. This may be a positive or a negative factor to you, depending on how much control you wish to maintain over your site.
Similar to Etsy, starting an eBay store has some significant advantages and disadvantages. As with Etsy, you won’t have to set up a website, customize your online storefront, or choose a shopping cart software. When you use eBay to sell your products, all those elements are included. However, this means, like Etsy, that your customers have to go through eBay to buy from you, and you also have little control over the visual layout of your store. As with Etsy, this may be a pro or a con for you, depending on the development path of your business.
In most cases, it’s best to build your own site and sell your products autonomously.
How to Use the Internet for Your Business
The first step toward using the internet for your business is going through the basics of commerce and marketing. If there is a necessity for a certain product in the area, then you should put your focus there.
After knowing what problems should be addressed, it is time to bring out the creative side of business.
You should be working on your online branding. Branding isn’t just about well-written copy. It’s about establishing your credibility. You need to position your brand as expert or professional or whatever descriptor your company is going after. You can even add testimonies from people who have used your goods or services to boost credibility. These same principles should apply your social media presence.
Using a website is imperative for a lot of reasons. In online business, it’s vital to position yourself online with a strong, professional destination that gives customers the impression you mean business. It may be good to hire a web designer that can help your site to be easy-to-use and customer friendly.
To that end, existing primarily online cuts down on the amount of employees you’ll need to have. You can hire from local job sites, no matter how far they are from you, because most online work can be done remotely. You probably don’t need full-time workers, so you can contract out work to an agency or hire a freelancer.
Finally, you’ll need to work on building your online profile. This can be done through many ways. You can pay for online advertising, you can optimize your site through SEO, you can write engaging articles about your industry and post them to a blog, or anything else you can come up with.
There is no definite formula with online promotion, so you can take it in any direction you think will work for your business.